A couple of weeks ago we told you about a recent study that made it clear that we are on the right track as we carry on the fight for lower prescription drug prices. When prices are so high, not only does it affect the financial well-being of individuals, but it also affects their physical well-being and can even have fatal consequences.
As we reported then, the study by the National Board of Economic Research, (NBER) explored how “cost-sharing”, in other words co-pays and premiums, can affect patient choices and patient health. The researchers examined Medicare data and found that a relatively modest increase in drug costs ($10 per prescription) lead to a 33% increase in mortality.
We are covering this study again because according to an article on BenefitsPro.com, “The study is part of a growing body of evidence that cost-sharing, designed to encourage consumers to make smarter choices when shopping for health care, is not achieving that goal. Both anecdotal and statistical data suggest that health care, as it exists today in the U.S, is simply too complicated and opaque for Americans to approach as a simple consumer product.”
The article continued, “The NBER study zeros in on how increases in prescription drug costs among Medicare recipients affect patient choices and comes to a stark finding: ‘Patient cost-sharing introduces large and deadly distortions into the cost-benefit calculus,’ the report said.”
And then it added this, “In fact, the study found that some patients who see increased drug prices will indiscriminately cut back on all drugs—regardless of how impactful those drugs are on their health.
“’We trace this mortality effect to cutbacks in life-saving medicines like statins and antihypertensives, for which clinical trials show large mortality benefits,’ the researchers wrote.
“’We find no indication that these reductions in demand affect only ‘low-value’ drugs; on the contrary, those at the highest risk of heart attack and stroke, who would benefit the most from statins and antihypertensives, cut back more on these drugs than lower-risk patients.’”
As seniors know from experience, even as we face ever-higher prescription drug prices every year, we face increased Medicare premiums but also reduced Social Security COLAs.
That is why TSCL is fighting so hard for legislation to reduce drug prices and for increased COLAs that reflect the true cost of living for our nation’s seniors.